Muslim and Hindu Hatred: Gandhi’s and Muhammads Views
Question 2 For hundreds of years there was religious fanaticism in the Hindu and Muslim religions leading up to extreme enmity between both. In India Hindus were the majority while Muslims were the minority therefore Muslims feared that a rule by Hindus would destroy what was more precious to them. This anger towards each other created two separate political groups, the Indian National Congress whose leader was Mohandas Gandhi, and the Muslim League whose leader was Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Although they were from opposing sides they both agreed that cooperation between both religions was necessary for India’s independence.
In the section The “Condition of India” from his pamphlet Indian Home Rule Gandhi expresses his feeling and beliefs towards Muslims, he felt that Hindus and Muslims were the same that both have the same blood running through their veins, and together could form one nation. On the other hand in his Speech to the Muslim League Muhammad makes it clear that although he wished for there to be cooperation among both religions he knew that Muslims had to separate from Hindus and become their own nation before things would end in their destruction. Both leaders had similar but also differing views in regards to the anger between Muslims and Hindus.
Gandhi was an outstanding figure in India who advocated non-violence when India was seeking its independence from British rule. As India’s independence was approaching Gandhi was struggling to maintain the cooperation between Hindu’s and Muslims. He believed that there could be a fusion of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian in India. In 1908 he wrote a pamphlet known as Indian Home Rule that contains many of his ideas and principles that guided him throughout his career. In the section The condition of India he refers to the concerns of a reader regarding the conflicts between the Hindus and Muslims.
In the section the reader is concerned that the introduction of Islam has unmade the nation. Gandhi responds by stating that “India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to different nations live in it” (Gandhi 214). He believed that the different religions can all merge into one nation. Hindu’s must be dreaming if they believe that only Hindu’s should live in India. According the Gandhi all of the different religions in India must live in unity for their own interest. Another concern that the reader has is in regards to the inborn enmity between the Hindus and Muslims.
Gandhi replies by stating that the inborn enmity was a phrase created by their mutual enemy, the British. He also reminds the reader that long before the British occupation Hindu’s and Muslims both recognized that their mutual fighting was a suicidal act and realized that neither was going to abandon its religion with violence, and therefore decided to live in peace. This at least only lasted until the British colonized. Gandhi was not a man of hatred, and although Muslims have different religious beliefs he believed that they both come from the same ancestors and the same blood runs through their veins (Gandhi 215).
Muhammad Ali believed that the differences between Hindus and Muslims such as religion and law and culture were not mere superstitions. According to him two divergent nationalities can’t be expected to become one nation by means of the British parliamentary statute. If the unitary government of India failed to accomplish this task then the central federal government would fail as well. In his Speech to the Muslim League Muhammad Ali expresses his support for the establishment of separate homelands. He wanted the division of India into “autonomous national states” (Jinnah 217).
He had little hope for the evolvement of a common nationality between both religions. This was because he believed that Hindus failed to understand the true nature of both religions, and that both were “distinct social orders”. According to Muhammad, “The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures”, therefore the impression that India could become one nation had to end for it could lead to its destruction (Jinnah 217). Their destruction would also be in part to an increasing dissatisfaction since Muslims were the minority and Hindus the majority.
Muslims feared that if both religions were to be brought together under a democratic system they would become ruled by Hindus. Rule by the majority would mean “the complete destruction of what is most precious in Islam” (Jinnah 217). This fear is the reason Muslims wanted to become their own nation to have their own territory, and their own state. This was exactly what Muhammad was advocating in his speech. India had been a British colony since the 1760’s that provided cotton, labor, and was also a market for British goods.
There had always been afflicting poverty in India however in the late 19th century there was growth of Indian intellectuals, education, nationalism, its economy, and communications. This growth lead to the formation of the Indian middles class as well as the growth of political organizations (Lecture). There was the Indian National Congress where its members proposed economic reforms and self-rule. Although the congress represented Muslims as well it was predominantly Hindu and because Muslims feared Hindu majority they began to withdraw from the Congress.
This resulted in the Muslim League where self-rule and democratic reforms were advocated. The hatred between Hindus and Muslims was one of India’s biggest problems. Each side had religious fanaticism that if populations were to mix there was violence between both sides. This feud created the two separate parties where the Congress party was led by Gandhi and the Muslim League was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Lecture). Muhammad Ali joined the National Congress in 1906 and then the Muslim League in 1913.
Because he was a member of both organizations he served as an intermediary between both, however he abandoned the Congress because he opposed Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and because they refused to support equal voting rights for the Muslim minority. Spite of that Muhammad continued to work for cooperation between both religions for one cause, India’s independence. Although he worked hard to mitigate the disagreements between Hindus and Muslims the violence between both groups convinced him that it was impossible to fix such a feud, and Muslims would have no future in an independent India.
Gandhi on the other hand was a Hindu and so therefore was part of the majority and was leader of the Congress. His main goal was to gain independence for India. But although he was Hindu he was a good person who had no hatred towards Muslims and truly believed in the possibility that both Hindus and Muslims could come together and merge into one nation. Being that both of these leaders are from opposing sides, and although there might have similar beliefs they each had different views in regards to the violence and hatred between Muslims and Hindus. These differing views can be seen in both Gandhi’s pamphlet and Muhammad’s speech.
At first both agreed with cooperation for the forward movement of independence, however both knew that it would be a difficult task. Gandhi’s pamphlet demonstrates that even with all the demonstrations of violence he never lost hope and always believed that both religions would someday come together as one. Muhammad’s speech on the other hand shows that unlike Gandhi he lost hope and realized it was impossible; Hindus and Muslims would never merge into one. Neither of them had hatred towards each other’s religion, both truly wanted for the cooperation and the end of the communal feuds but neither could break such a strong animosity.
The enmity between Muslims and Hindus was so strong that neither Muhammad nor Gandhi was able to get both sides to cooperate and get along with one another. Their pamphlet and speech both demonstrate their views and reactions towards the failed attempt for harmony between both sides. Both demonstrate their differing views, Gandhi thought it was possible to reach a consensus and merge into one nation, while Muhammad seemed more realistic and realized it was a lost cause for the Hindus and Muslims.